Exercises such as weight lifting, hiking, or tennis help maintain strong bones by making the body work against gravity. Swimming and tai chi, while not exercises to prevent osteoporosis, per se, can help improve flexibility and balance, which can ultimately help you avoid falls and fractures.
Exercise carries many benefits, including increased muscle strength, coordination, and overall better health. There is also a special link between osteoporosis and exercise. Physical activity is important for treating and preventing osteoporosis, because it improves bone health and reduces the risk of falls that can result in fractures.
Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. Young women and men who exercise regularly generally achieve greater peak bone mass -- maximum bone density and strength -- than those who do not exercise. As a general rule, bone mass peaks during the third decade of life. After that time, we can begin to lose bone. Women and men older than age 20 can help prevent bone loss with regular exercise. This allows us to maintain muscle strength, coordination, and balance, which in turn helps prevent falls and related fractures. This is especially important for older adults and people who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Weight-bearing activities can help you maintain strong bones; therefore, weight-bearing exercises are considered good "osteoporosis exercises." Weight-bearing exercises are those in which bones and muscles work against gravity.
Examples of weight-bearing activities include:
- Climbing stairs
- Lifting weights
- Using resistance machines
- Racquet sports
- Stair climbing.
Other kinds of exercises will help you increase your flexibility and improve your balance to prevent falls. Examples include:
- Tai chi
- Bike riding